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Trump’s Cursing

When Bill Clinton had his affair with Monica Lewinsky in the White House, he did incalculable damage to the nation.  Never mind that he was impeached by the House of Representatives, or that he was disbarred, or that the reputation of the Oval Office was tarnished.  What was immeasurably worse was what he did to the culture of mainstream America.

Prior to Clinton’s affair, such activity was treated in a hush- hush way by the press as well as by the entertainment industry.  Even though other philanderers had occupied the Presidency, there was always a delicate restraint in giving exposure to such issues.  With Clinton, it was different.  He brought with him a reputation of dalliances with women and when the Lewinsky affair was made public, the restraints were off.  The sleazy details were on the news with graphics including a blue dress.

The White House was not only defiled by the activities that went on inside but it lost its symbolism of honor.  At the same time, the activities of Clinton legitimized such things in the public mind.  If the President did such things, why would the general population restrain themselves?   Of course such things have happened among the public.  But the damage is how it has been given a veneer of respectability since it has been done openly by a sitting President. Culturally, America lost a collective innocence, or at least a collective reticence to sanction what once was considered wrong.

Why do I bring this up?  Because another unspoken taboo is biting the dust.  Despite how entertaining and politically incorrect a campaign may be, there has always been an aura about politics that in the open is even child friendly.  There is a public persona of decorum that is expected.  Speech, though combative and polarizing, has for the most part been free of offensive language.  Politicians kept a public image of conversational respectability.  That did not necessarily reflect who they really were.

When President Nixon was being investigated for abusing the power of the White House, secret tapes were discovered in the Oval Office.  What disturbed my father, a strong Nixon supporter, more than anything else about the whole Watergate investigation were not the actual crimes involved, but the revelation of the tapes that Nixon had a foul mouth.  My dad could hardly get his mind around that. He had never noticed any impropriety in Nixon’s public speeches.

There has been a rather universally accepted concept about the polity of words in a campaign.  But it is going out the window this election cycle.  Trump rallies are not kid friendly.  The NY Post headlined Trump’s “tirade of profanity” in a Las Vegas speech.  A 2011 YouTube clip shows Trump cursing in a New Hampshire speech.

Recently I heard a clip of one of his speeches when a microphone did not work well.  I was disappointed and perhaps a little shocked that he used language never allowed in our home to voice his displeasure. The shock value of the words he used may have connected with the part of his audience who uses the same words in their own conversation, but it disappointed me. The problem is the legitimizing of such words in political public discourse.  While Harry Truman had the reputation for being colorful in his language, the main offense was his connection to the word describing eternal punishment.  And like other leaders who were heard privately to use bad words, his were not done in public.

Someone who uses bad language may actually propose policies that are good for the nation.  Yet the influence of leaders goes beyond their policies.  They can set a direction for the culture.  The “bully pulpit” of the presidency includes not only their message but also their persons.  Bill Clinton helped to mainstream illicit sex in a way that movies, music, and magazines never could.  Similarly, mainstreaming vulgar language from the bully pulpit of a presidential campaign can have the effect of lessening public restraint – as if we are not having enough problems with that as it is.

Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.  A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things” (Matt. 12:34,35).  If what comes out of a man’s mouth is good, it indicates a good man.  This can be policy or words.  So a man may use words free from vulgarity but that are still evil if they promote evil policies.  Or a good man can uprightly commend good policies. But a man who utters vulgarities in defense of virtues is a contradiction.  Jesus further said, “By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words shalt thou be condemned” (v.37).

It is no use professing to have a “great relationship with God” while continuing to use vile language.  Paul addressed the Colossians on this issue.  “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth” (Col. 3:8).  There is an old saying that the eye is the window to the soul.  In this case, the mouth may be considered to be a broadcast of what is recorded in the soul.

Character matters. Those leaders in our history who have been upright in character  are heroes. Consider the character qualities of men like Washington and Lincoln. These were men who were careful about their personal lives as well as what they proposed for the nation. These men were uncompromising in their honesty, faithfulness, and honor.  When you read their speeches you don’t come away with having had your mind compromised by words only fitting for someone coming from a New York City barroom. Instead, you are challenged to achieve greater things in yourself and in your country.

Some may object that in the light of the big issues in our world a little vulgarity here or there is insignificant.  But little things make a big difference.  Law enforcement has recorded less crime when a community cleans up trash and fixes broken windows.  Small things matter. The little foxes spoil the vines, according to the Bible.

After the 1960’s Volkswagen had an ad with a souped-up bug painted with flames on its fenders.  The words asked, “Is nothing sacred?”  VW recognized that the culture was changing and traditional values were being abandoned.  The coarsening of public discourse now on the campaign trail indicates the continuing abandonment of propriety and decency in our society.  As Americans, we deserve better.  As Christians, we should demand better.

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer” (Ps.  19:14).

Comments(19)

  1. Reply
    M.L. Hobbs says

    None of those who are running for the office of President, are our ultimate hope, nor have the answers to the challenges we’re facing as a nation.
    Our Scripture reminds us; “Blessed is the nation, whose God, is THE LORD”!!

  2. Reply
    Gretel says

    You expressed what I have been feeling all along.
    How far are we going before we wake up and see how far we have fallen from our biblical heritage? I am greatly disturbed .
    I know it’s our Christian duty to vote , but I’m between a rock and a mountain.

  3. Reply
    Duane Quesenberry says

    Yes! Thank you Dr. Gordeuk.

  4. Reply
    Wanda Martin says

    Very well said, Dr. Dave.

  5. Reply
    margit hollmeyer says

    Very well written. There is never a reason to curse, in my opinion.

  6. Reply
    David Todd says

    Good message. I am shocked that Christians are so enamoured by such filthy people, running for office.

  7. Reply
    Steve Powell says

    Excellent assessment of Trump. He should not be the first choice of people of faith during the nominating process. He should, however, receive their support if he is the nominee for the GOP. Staying at home is not an option. Better to vote for the privately profane who shares most of our values, than vote for the publicly pious who does not. This is especially true in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and other electorally critical states. If Trump is the GOP nominee we should supper his candidacy over ANYONE who runs from the extreme left.

    • Reply
      Becky says

      Thanks Mr. Powell for looking at the big picture. We have seen these 7 years what happens to our country when christians don’t vote because there is no perfect candidate. I am not a Trump supporter at all but I will surely vote for him over the democratic choice, if it comes to that.

  8. Reply
    Ken says

    Very well said!

  9. Reply
    Richard Grout says

    Very thoughtful analysis but it is only the tip of the iceberg. There are a number of even more serious concerns about D.T. I am amazed that any Christian would vote for anyone who is GOP, regardless of their integrity or evident double-mindedness. We have a higher standard, and there are still candidates who do understand what it means to “mind God” and obey His Word. That may not win elections, but, as Wm. Penn said, “Right is right even if everyone is against it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is for it.”

  10. Reply
    Steve Powell says

    We may get a warm and smug feeling if we righteously stay home or write in the perfect Biblical candidates, but if the GOP candidate agrees with us on only one critical issue more than the Democrat, it’s still a vote well cast. Walking around with our collective chests puffed defiantly out while being subjected to President Hillary Clinton is the most irresponsible thing I can imagine.

  11. Reply
    Erin Emmorey says

    I am disappointed to see such small minded rhetoric, but I guess I shouldn’t be considering the source. The last 8 years, America AND the entire world have had to reap the horrific consequences of small minded thinking such as this. When Christians self righteously stay home and don’t vote because they can’t justify small issues they are indirectly taking on the responsibility of who is elected as default. Sure, maybe we won’t have a president who openly swears but we do have one who doesn’t seem to care that Christians are being beheaded, that our ambassadors are being murdured, our children are being aborted, our religious freedoms are daily being attacked, a president who sympathizes w those who actively plot the demise of our country and the Christian faith. There is a certain parable that calls us to take what is given to us and to use it wisely. Please, do! As for me, I don’t find Trump ideal. But if it comes down to home or Hillary or Bernie, you better believe it’s Trump. Judgement day is coming and you aren’t the one presiding over said judgement so please, vote what is best for the America and the world and stop being a Pharisee.

    • Reply
      Dr. David Gordeuk says

      At this point neither major party has even cast one vote for their nominee. Primaries are the first place to exert the influence of your vote. When there are better choices than profanity, adultery, lasciviousness, etc. it is the time to make them. Your points can be revisited after the conventions. Also, what Jesus said about spoken words revealing character is hardly small minded. It is the word of God.

      • Reply
        Donna Tyler says

        May we “know” something about presidential candidates “by their fruits?” Corrupt, unashamed speech seems to indicate a serious character flaw of some sort. I wonder if the beliefs behind the strong language of candidates on current issues include hatred of the sin that is permeating and ruining our country. I wonder if we are as strongly motivated in our tearful prayers to overcome sin by the grace of God, as well as lament the sins of our friends and neighbors. Elsewhere in this blog site, I discovered a history of people who were saved from sin by Jesus Christ due to the church revival in Central Pennsylvania. I am very grateful that its influence reached me a generation later. I’m grateful for the 44 years of deliverance from my former ungodly life. High standards of living and Christian spirituality first drew me to listen to the gospel, read the Bible, and believe in Jesus Christ. If high standards of living are maintained by a country’s leadership, it seems to follow that citizens would want to attain to high standards, also. Sadly, we have been observing such low standards of living in America’s leadership for so many years, that sin appears normal to the current generation.

  12. Reply
    Maurice Calvert says

    I feel that true believers should earnestly seek the will of our Heavenly Father and vote the way that He leads us.

  13. Reply
    Julian Rogers says

    Very well written and 100% on point. Mr. Trump, when he moved to Palm Beach, applied to join the Everglades Club. He was denied. Rumour has it they said “We are afraid the only thing he has is money”

  14. Reply
    A. Johnson says

    I’m not sure that I agree with The Donald on any issue. As a social conservative two big issues are abortion and same-sex marriage. He’s on record as being such a strong supporter of abortion that he wouldn’t even restrict partial birth abortion. He has no problem with civil unions, which is same-sex marriage. But what about the borders? I don’t think he has a well thought out plan for dealing with the complicated immigration problem. Health care? He’s in favor of government control and stripping the citizenry of any personal choice. But he’s a successful business man, he should be able to fix the economy?! In our present business culture, success is defined by how much money you can amass. How you do business is of no importance at all. How you treat people doesn’t have anything to do with it, shady business practices are completely acceptable. Gambling and prostitution (strip clubs) are legitimate businesses, and Donald Trump has made his fortune, not by engaging in this type of business, but by being a pioneer in these practices.
    Bill Clinton’s actions were a reflection of the decline of character in our nation as a whole. We have a duty to demand that men and women of character lead our nation. Donald Trump is not a man of character.

  15. Reply
    Gabriel Morley says

    What are the net results of all the Christians who have been involved in politics the last 40 years? Nevermind the professing Christians who believe it’s OK to be politically involved but don’t bother. With respect to abortion, homosexuality, taxes, and a host of other issues, what have these involved Christians produced via politics? If the political involvement has made improvements, would those same improvements have been made had the same finances and energy been poured into Kingdom building and effective ministry?

  16. Reply
    Gabriel Morley says

    If there is anything that the 8 years of GWB demonstrated, it would be that we dare not look to the White House as our Savior and if there is anything the 8 years of BHO should teach us is that we should not look AT the White House as our Satan.

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